Well, I've never heard about this one before..... Real or imaginary?!
THE POPOBAWA - A ZANZIBARI INCUBUS
A bizarre, flying cyclops dwarf is terrorizing the Zanzibar Islands.
by Davy Russell
The infamous Popobawa has struck again causing panic in the Zanzibar islands off the coast of Tanzania in Africa. The "creature", described as a cyclops dwarf with bat-like wings and ears, and sharp talons, is feared for its nasty habit of sodomizing men while they sleep in their beds. The presence of the often invisible Popobawa can be detected by an acrid smell or a puff of smoke.
Sometimes, the Popobawa is visible to everyone except the terrified victim. It is believed to take human form by day, but with pointed fingers. After doing its vile deed, the Popobawa instructs its victims to spread the word about their ordeal or it would be back.
The Popobawa, its name derived from the Swahili words for "bat" and "wing", first appeared in the neighboring island of Pemba in 1972. More attacks were reported in the 1980s, again in April of 1995, and recently in 2000 and July 2001. Attacks appear to coincide with political stress such as election. The 1972 attacks followed the assassination of the country’s president. Interestingly, the recent attacks have come without any political turmoil.
Hospitals in Zanzibar have treated numerous broken ribs, bruises, and other injuries attributed to the Popobawa. One mentally ill man was hacked to death after confessing that he was the troublesome demon. During times when the Popobawa terrorizes the islands, whole families will often sleep arm-in-arm in front of their houses, seeking safety in numbers.
Mjaka Hamad, a peasant farmer in his mid-50s and a victim of the Popobawa’s attacks in 1995, has related his ordeal to the media. "I could feel it," Hamad said. "...something pressing on me. I couldn’t imagine what sort of thing was happening to me. You feel as if you are screaming with no voice. It was just like a dream but then I was thinking it was this Popobawa and he had come to do something terrible to me, something sexual. It is worse than what he does to women." Hamad claimed that he did not believe in the Popobawa or other spirits before the attack and suggests that is the reason he was attacked. "I don’t believe in spirits so maybe that’s why it attacked me. Maybe it will attack anybody who doesn’t believe."
The Popobawa appears to be an African version of the wide-spread Mara phenomenon. Joe Nickell, an investigator with CSICOP (Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal), has compared the Popobawa to Medieval legends of succubi (female spirits) and incubi (male spirits) who sexually molested their victims in bed at night. In Newfoundland, an ugly old woman sexually molested men in a phenomenon known as Hagging. Other similar reports from around the world describe vampires, formless black blobs, and extraterrestrials among other bizarre entities.
Skeptics claim that these experiences are a result of a hypnogogic hallucination during a "waking dream". Paralysis, a sense of being weighted down, floating sensations, and encounters with otherworldly beings are often all unifying characteristics of the phenomenon.
A woman awakes in the middle of the night terrified. She attempts to sit up but is unable to move. As she glances at the foot of her bed, she thinks she sees a dark shadow; maybe a person in a dark robe, or perhaps only a shadow. In a few minutes, she is able to move and speak, and the "figure" is gone.
This woman experienced what is known as a Mara, which usually happens at night, either during sleep or during a lucid dream, but the experiencee is always wide awake. Paralysis is almost always reported, and the presence of a figure, which some interpret as an angel, a vampire, a ghost, a deceased loved one, an extraterrestrial, and a wide variety of "otherworldly" beings.
A scientifically baffling characteristic of mara's is the bodily changes that can take place to an experiencee. For example, if one experiences a vampire attack, they may discover puncture wounds on ones neck, which may also be bleeding. Those who interpret the event as an alien abduction, may find mysterious cuts, or particles of matter (implants) under their skin. It has been suggested that the power of suggestion was at work, as the mind can convince the body that it has been bitten, and in response, blood vessels may break, causing the effect of a vampire bite, or needle marks. The mara experience is directly influenced by the individuals beliefs. For example, a religious person may interpret such apparition as a heavenly being, while a UFO-believer may describe the figure as an alien entity.
An anonymous lady described a mara experience where she was woken up just after she had fallen asleep. She felt a presence in the room but could not move to confirm the strong sensation, nor could she make any sound. She began to panic and soon saw a dark shadow in the corner of her room approach her. She then felt a weight on her chest and a sharp pain on her neck. A few minutes later, the pain stopped, and she was able to move again. She rushed to the mirror, and found two red swollen spots on her neck but no puncture marks. In an interview, she said, "I don't believe some being visited me. I had seen a vampire movie a few days ago, and I think my mind simply worked that into some sort of realistic dream or something."
Another story was told by a man who said that he woke up in the middle of the night because he had a hard time breathing. When he opened his eyes, he saw a dark being sitting on him, choking him. When he tried to move, he realized that he was paralyzed. In his mind, he envisioned a cross, and immediately, the being vanished, leaving the man gasping for breath. He also does not fully believe that he had an evil visitor in the night. He believes that perhaps his cat laid on his chest or neck, and in his semi-asleep state, his mind created a hallucination of a dark shadow (which he adds, could have been his bunched up bed covers).
Mara experiences vary between cultures. Tales from Europe and Nova Scotia, Canada, describe a similar experience called "hagging", where an old, ugly witch sits on a man's chest. Other cultures describe dark figures, sometimes wearing capes and tall, pointed hats. Still others have feelings of being raped by succubi or the popobawa of Africa. The religious envision angels, while others interpret the "visitation" as that from alien beings or vampires. Skeptics use this fact to conclude that the maras are not real but merely a figment of an over-active imagination.
Through the research I've conducted, I find no actual proof of real visitations in the night. Most people who have experienced maras do not believe that they had encounters with the otherworldly. Instead, they are not entirely closed minded to the fact that it may have been the result of the subconscious fabricating a vision. Although I believe there is some kind of entity out there, I do not think that the majority of maras are real.